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Summer seems to be the time for road trips, and my family is no exception. Growing up, we were always headed somewhere it seems. We drove to Florida more times than I can count, and I have stories that would raise your hair about traveling from Connecticut to Chicago in blizzards. My mom was smart and usually traveled with backup, which meant my Gram was with us. And if my Gram was there, that meant we had Juicy Fruit, too.
My Gram chewing Juicy Fruit is one of the strongest memories I have of her. I can never smell the distinctive scent without thinking of her and smiling. It was on road trips from Chicago to Florida that she taught me how to blow bubbles with Juicy Fruit, and she always carried a pack with her wherever she went. And lucky for her -and my mom – teaching me how to blow bubbles took up plenty of time on that road trip and entertained me to no end, keeping me quiet (and not asking how long until we got there).
Not surprisingly, as an expert on road trips, my mom was an expert on keeping us entertained throughout the journey. Now that it’s my turn as a mom, I do my best to ensure the wee ones are happy on road trips – especially since we venture from Chicago to St Louis on a regular basis. I don’t use all my mom’s tricks. One of her standbys was to have my sister and I save up all our Halloween candy – and I mean all the Halloween candy as in we each filled a huge ice cream bucket – that we got to eat on the car ride down to Florida each August. That one isn’t quite my cup of tea, but I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve that keep not just the wee ones content, but I’m happy, too. (Or as happy as I can be on a road trip!)
5 Ways to Keep Everyone Happy on a Road Trip
Make sure you have fun stops along the way, not just your main destination. The wee ones and my husband and parents (but ahem, not me) just took a trip in an RV to the Grand Canyon. It involved a whole lot of driving both there and back. They could have simply driven there as fast as possible, but instead, they looked up fun things to do along the way. They stopped at the Cadillac Ranch. They made sure to find KOAs to stay in with pools and mini golf and other activities. They went to the Eisenhower Library. Every day, there was something to break up the monotony of living in an RV.
Audiobooks are your friend. I know that DVD players in cars are the tried and true method to keep kids entertained. Shhh, we don’t have any, and that’s by choice. It’s just not my thing. And honestly, I don’t want to watch Toy Story 3 again. Instead, we head to the library and take out audiobooks that we can all enjoy (which unfortunately for the wee ones means no more Geronimo Stilton). I discovered this trick when I used to drive a 5 child carpool, and it still works today.
They are enthralled in the story, and because they have to listen so closely, they tend to be quieter and sit still for longer. The unabridged books are way longer than a single movie, and I enjoy them, too, so it ‘s a win all around. We’ve listened to the entire Gregor the Overlander series, Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Judy Moody and Stink, and more. It’s amazing to me how many books are available as audiobooks, so there is something to interest everyone. Best of all, it provokes great conversation around vocabulary and choices that movies don’t seem to do as often.
Bring a box of books. Outside of audiobooks, we also read a lot in the car. I’m lucky that the wee ones can easily read without getting carsick, and I capitalize on that. When we are headed out for a long road trip, we go to the library and fill up a box with books they want to read. They often share books back and forth, and some they read repeatedly. It’s another activity that doesn’t require batteries or noise, and it amazes me how quickly time flies when you’re reading. Because the books start in the box and have to be returned to the box once they’re completed – our own library in the car! – nothing is lost along the way, preventing any expensive mistakes for us!
Give kids something to look forward to. Before they left, all the wee ones could talk about was how they were going to get in the RV and drive. And then they would go rrrrrrrrrrrr (with appropriate arm steering gestures indicating a fast turn off the highway) and everyone would pile out of the RV and into Walmart to get whatever they needed. Listening to them recount this story over and over made me giggle. And they truly looked forward to those stops.
Not surprisingly, it was on one of those stops that the wee one discovered the Juicy Fruit now makes actual bubble gum – and fruity chews. They, of course, had heard all the stories about how my Gram had taught me to blow bubbles on road trips using Juicy Fruit and they couldn’t wait to do the same with the new versions. Not surprisingly, the Juicy Fruit Fruity Chew Bottle and the Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum both made it into the cart from Walmart. The few dollars it costs to pick up the items like this – and find something for them to look forward to when there aren’t any tourist attractions nearby – keeps everyone sane on the long road trips.
Stop the “Are we there yet” questions. In addition to blowing bubbles and having fun with the gum, I realized that the Fruity Chews can serve as a great way to let everyone in the car know how much time is left without the dreaded question of how long before we get there. With two kids, the two colors and flavors available in Fruity Chews work perfectly, especially since there are 40 chews in each container. I simply count out one Fruity Chew per child (each has an assigned flavor, either Original or Strawberry) for each hour remaining in the day’s drive. Each hour, I hand over another Fruity Chew. They can count how many are left to figure out how much time we still have on the road, and it makes it fun instead of them driving me – and everyone else – batty.
The wee ones are back from their trek to the Grand Canyon, and they had a blast. As many hours as they spent in the RV – including an unexpected stop on the last day for a flat tire – they enjoyed themselves because they had plenty to keep them occupied, and they were activities they enjoyed. I did hear about the things that bought when they all piled out of the RV and into Walmart, including the “I didn’t do it” with a picture of a skunk boxers that my parents bought Little Miss.
The memories created on a road trip can be priceless, and finding ways to keep the adventure new and fun is the secret. Even after they got home, they both wanted to show me how awesome they are at blowing bubbles with their chewing gum. They fell in love with the new Juicy Fruit products, and they’ve already asked me when we can get more – because on this road trip they, just like me, learned how to blow bubbles!
Heading out on a road trip yourself? Don’t forget to use these tips to make it more fun for everyone. And if you haven’t tried the new Juicy Fruit products, Walmart has demos coming up where you can check them out and show off your #JuicyFruitFunSide. Ask at your local Walmart when (and if!) they’re having a demo July 25-27, 11:00am-4:00pm or August 1-3, 11:00am-4:00pm on Friday/Saturday and 1:00-6:00 on Sunday.